August 29, 2012
As an entrepreneur pitching to angel investors, you have a lot on your mind. You have to nail your pitch and anticipate their questions, all while staying cool and charismatic. Preparing your pitch is of paramount importance, and a crucial component of this is knowing exactly who you’re pitching to.
We’re here to help.
Tech Cocktail’s Angel Spotlight Series is a weekly feature of prominent angel investors around the country. We give you the lowdown on their investing strategy, top advice, and deal breakers, and hopefully reveal that, just like you and me, angels are people, too (with deeper pockets).
This week we chat with Glen Hellman. As an angel investor with Stardust Venture Partners, Hellman has backed companies like YouEye and Seva Call. In addition to being a Tech Cocktail contributor, Hellman runs Driven Forward, which provides coaching and facilitation for executives.
Glen Hellman: My second goal as an investor is to do good while not sacrificing my first goal, which is to preserve and grow capital. I’m vested in the DC region and working to make this the kind of town where my kids and future grandkids will want to work and build their lives.
There are lots of great companies with lots of great ideas. But like Warren Buffet, I believe in investing in things that I understand.
I concentrate in B to B, enterprise product companies because that’s my background. I love deals where the path from company/product to customer revenue is direct, simple, and not complicated by multiple companies in the middle. I favor business models where the customer is easily identified, has serious quantifiable pain, and is inexpensive to approach. I invest in people … smart people who I trust and like.
I don’t like deals that are the next Google or the next anything. I want to invest in the only THING. I’m not a fan of companies that are trying to ride some wave with hundreds of other companies in very crowded spaces.
I also have a process to source deals and I don’t look at unsolicited deals.
Top piece of advice to entrepreneurs
Hellman: Surround yourself with good advisors. Vet your decisions. Set goals, put systems in place to be held accountable and remember what General Patton said: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite time in the future.”
Common advice that you disagree with
Hellman: Fail fast and fail often. That’s bullshit. Be fearless, move forward fast, and don’t let your failures hold you down. If you plan to fail, you will. It’s like that Yoda says, “Try? There is no try! There is only do or do not.”
Top mistake entrepreneurs make when pitching to you
Hellman: Try to make me love the product. I don’t give a crap about the product. I care why people want it, why they’re going to buy it from you. I’ll worry about the product if I’m sold it’s worth my time to investigate after the pitch. I want to understand the business first. Make me care about the business and then I’ll care about the nuts and bolts.
Most cherished accomplishment
Hellman: It’s not a business thing, it’s my family. I have two sons and through a recent merger I acquired a daughter. I have the best wife in the world so I’d say I’m most proud of having a family that love and respect each other. I don’t know if that’s an accomplishment or a gift, but it’s what I’m most thankful for.
In my free time you can be found…
Hellman: I write, I coach, I read, and it’s difficult to distinguish if that’s work or free time but it’s what I do.
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